The Self-Managed Organization

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TD Magazine (a publication of ATD Press) has accepted the article The Self-Managed and Accountable Organization for publication by Dr. Michael Colburn.

A friend and former professor of mine  – Dr. Michael Colburn – recently published “The Self-Managed and Accountable Organization.” Once the article is published, I will update this blog post with the hyperlink.

In his article, Dr. Colburn outlines 5 core principles that guide self-management.

  • Principle 1:  I work for the customer (not my boss).
  • Principle 2:  I manage my own performance.
  • Principle 3:  My boss and I are partners in performance.
  • Principle 4:  I am loyal to the truth.
  • Principle 5:  I am a lifelong learner.

Of these 5 principles, I find that the most intriguing are the ideas of ‘who you work for’ and that ‘each professional must be a lifelong learner.’  When you turn your sights to the idea of the ultimate customer (or consumer) of your goods and services as your ultimate customer you cut right through politics and hazy decision making.  The decisions may still be hard, and you may still make mistakes, but your chances of getting it right and being able to course correct are immensely improved.
Embedded in this is the idea of being a lifelong learner.  Today’s business generally does not have ‘one right answer’.  So being a lifelong learner allows you to accept the results of a decision and learn from those results.  This learning provides a solid bae from which to make course corrections.

Dr. Colburn has been an inspiration to me.  I hope you are able to take the time to look up his publication, and enjoy his work. Here is the introduction to his article….

As organizations improve performance, they need to deal with the problems of success.  The good news is that revenues and profits are increasing.  The bad news is that the profits are often whittled away as the organization struggles with the increased size and complexity.  As an organization continues to grow, it also needs to grow the capacity to perform.   Investing in new equipment, technology and buildings, however, is not enough.  The self-managed and accountable organization also provides the underpinning required to develop flexible management techniques that grow with the company.

In high performance organizations leadership is exercised throughout the organization.  It has little to do with job titles.  The best way for the organization’s formal leaders (managers, directors, executives) to create a culture of self-management and accountability is to live it in their own daily behaviors.  This paper offers some things organizations can do to build such a culture.  I invite interested readers to try one of the ideas presented, experience the impact, generate additional ideas and share your experience with others.